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Networks of the Brain (MIT Press) 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0262014694
ISBN-10: 0262014696
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Editorial Reviews

Review

[ Networks of the Brain]'s most important contribution lies in connecting neuroscience with the science of networks.... This is where we should be looking for solutions to the great mysteries of life and the mind.

(American Scientist)

Networks of the Brain is a unique resource. It defines the nature and scope of one of the newest and most exciting research programs in cognitive neuroscience.

(Minds & Machines)

If you have not discovered this book yet, take a look. Highly recommended. Fascinating.

(Stan Wasserman Complexity and Social Networks Blog)

In Networks of the Brain, Olaf Sporns synthesizes two of the most exciting topics in science today and links the latest breakthroughs to their deep historical roots. A graceful, authoritative, and fascinating book.

(Steven Strogatz, Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics, Cornell University, and author of Sync)

Sporns's book is a very important and scholarly contribution to our understanding of brain function. It offers a view of neuroscience that is breathtakingly broad and provides just the sort of perspective needed if we are to integrate knowledge of form cells, social groups, and everything in between. It lays out the evidence for a real paradigm shift in how we must pursue our understanding of the brain's workings.

(Marcus Raichle, Professor of Radiology, Neurology, Neurobiology and Biomedical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis)

This excellent book instills a sense of excitement about understanding the brain in terms of network theory. Despite the fact it does not contain a single equation, one comes away from Sporns's book with a sense of insight and perspective rarely attained by treatments of this sort. In short, this is a resource of conceptual treasures for anyone interested in a modern understanding of the brain. It will be appreciated by students and seasoned academics alike.

(Karl Friston, Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London)

Written engagingly by a master at the top of his game, Sporns's book unites neural structure, function, connectivity, and dynamics into a single, quantitative, and coherent framework -- brain network science that goes a long way toward understanding the dynamic patterns of the brain that underlie behavior and cognition. Essential for the transdisciplinary neuroscientist of the future.

(J.A. Scott Kelso, author of Dynamic Patterns: The Self-Organization of Brain and Behavior and The Complementary Nature)

About the Author

Olaf Sporns is Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Adjunct Professor in the School of Informatics and Computing, a member of the programs in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, and Head of the Computational Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at Indiana University Bloomington.

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Product Details

  • Series: MIT Press
  • Hardcover: 424 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1 edition (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262014696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262014694
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul L. Nunez on December 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The label "networks" in the title of this impressive book may fail to fully capture the incredible richness of intricate (multi-scale) brain structure depicted here. Perhaps an added adjective like "genuine" might serve to contrast this work with the many "toy" neural networks illustrated in other publications. To get some idea of the complexity of the genuine brain networks discussed here, picture your living room fully packed top to bottom with centimeter scale worms representing (scaled up) axons linking 100 billion cell bodies. Your worm visitors occupy multiple intricate paths; many are short and form local worm societies (modules), but some cross the entire room and allow remote worm modules to interact non-locally.

Sporns asks what network science might tell us about the brain. He begins with a non mathematical overview of graph theory, "graphs" being mathematicians' abstract label for "networks." Sporns considers both structural (fixed wiring) and functional (dynamic) interactions between brain network nodes and modules. "Modules" are defined here as communities of nodes with large numbers of internal interconnections that may, in some cases, be viewed as "super nodes" or nodes defined at larger scales. To adopt the metaphor of human social networks, neurons are analogous to persons and the modules at various scales are analogous to neighborhoods, cities, and nations.

Like social systems, brain networks exhibit a striking (nested) hierarchical modularity, essentially small networks within larger networks within still larger networks, much like nested Russian dolls. This multi-scale structure may account for much of the brain's complex behavior.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent coverage of brain networks, covering structural, functional, and effective connectivity and their respective dynamics. I am a neurobiologist but this book is presented in such a way that it builds up to complex subjects with topics and language that non-neuroscientists (for instance computer scientists and mathematicians) can understand. There are no equations in the book and yet the mathematical concepts are explained clearly so that they can be easily understood.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm not a neuroscientist but have read a fair amount on the subject. This book was great, it builds up an understanding of networks in general and their application to brain science. It summarizes a lot of the latest science and makes claims that are largely in line with other authors I've read (e.g. Tononi, Gerald Edelman, Joaquin Fuster). In other words, from the perspective of someone on the sidelines, Sporns backs up the central claims with a whole lot of evidence. I'm very glad I read it and I plan on re-reading it soon to make sure it sinks in. Whatever little networks make up my brain got a good workout
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I work in neuroimaging. I've read this book cover to cover and I'm very impressed with the clarity of the writing.
Sporns tells you where he's going and summarizes each section so you are sure to get the main points. Each section leads into the next section.

The only chapter that did not provide enough background for me was Chapter 12 on Dynamics....clearly a difficult topic.

Thankyou Dr Sporns! You've opened up a whole new world to me.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This appears to be a fascinating book, but the Kindle version does not include the color plates, which is very disappointing, given that you must pay more for the Kindle version than a hard copy. I returned my Kindle version, and will be buying the hard copy instead.

Update: 9/13/11

After buying a hard copy of the book, I discovered that the color plates are indeed to be found in the Kindle version, at the very end of the book. It is unfortunate that Amazon does not include information about color illustrations in their online descriptions--the sample chapter that you can download for free does not always give any indication of whether color plates are included (according to the Amazon representative I spoke to, it's up to each publisher to decide whether or not to include color plates in the Kindle version).

In the end, I returned the hard copy and repurchased the Kindle version, because I mostly use Kindle on my Mac, which allows me to easily copy text and paste it into another document, saving me many hours of typing and editing by hand.
7 Comments 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
This book primarily describes how brain connectivity can be analyzed and understood using graph theory and some related areas of study. The book begins by arguing for a graph theory approach to neuroscience. This is followed by some basics in graph theory, types of brain networks and neuroanatomy. The book then spends some times considering brain efficiency from an evolutionary standpoint, spontaneous neural activity (absence of stimulus), states of behavior/cognition, disease, brain development, dynamic networks, and complexity. Finally, the books closes by suggesting that the brain is not isolated and requires body and environmental feedback to be properly understood.

There is a massive amount of information contained in this book and Sporns has done a fantastic job conveying this information in a clear and organized manner. There are hundreds of cited examples, studies, and statistics to back up all the claims made by the author. However, this book is extremely dense and packed with information. Having finished the entire thing, I cannot remember nearly half of what I've read in great detail. I think I would treat this book as partially a reference guide - you can think of each chapter as a review article.

The reason I have removed one star is because the book begins by outlining its goal as a non-mathematical approach to brain networks for those outside the field. However, I think some parts of the book would still be quite difficult for someone with no knowledge of computational neuroscience. I research primarily in the molecular neuroscience field but I have familiarity with concepts in bioinformatics, graph theory, statistical neuroscience, information theory, and attractor dynamics.
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